No, I didn’t win the Powerball. However, I get to review an awesome and amazing Criminal Minds episode. That makes writing a review a pretty easy task. The episode basically writes the review. And relax Reid fans; this die hard Hotch/Rossi fan was in your corner before the episode even aired. Since Matthew Gray Gubler had put in his contract to miss three episodes to do a project (per a recent interview with Erica Messer), I pretty much figured Breen would have him front and center with Matthew’s return episode which would also started off 2016 for Criminal Minds. The press release for the episode confirmed that. Like Rossi once said, “I was fine with that.”
After Reid is seated at the table, we saw a very typical Reid; fidgeting with things; the glass on the table, his attire etc. And then he pulls out a single rose. I must admit – I only noticed the wedding ring he was wearing on my third watch of the episode. It was a quick selective shot that director Heather Capiello used and only sharp eyed viewers could have caught it. No one at my usual live chat site noticed it.
Enter in Cat; with Reid doing his thing about hugs and contact. When they sat down, it was the usual blind date chit chat. I loved the Kardashian joke that went over Reid’s head; because his comeback was totally Reid. I thought I was the only one that remembered Robert Kardashian was part of OJ Simpson’s legal team. But it was totally Reid.
The scene goes into the discussion of Reid’s “wedding ring” and quickly devolved. We hear a noticeable sound that even Garcia recognized. And geez, did Cat learn that move from Emily with Doyle (Coda S6)? As Reid explains that he knows Cat is part of the crew trying to assassinate the Dirty Dozen, aka Garcia, “Ms. 45” being Cat leans over the table. “Hello Penelope.” That line was simply chilling. The prologue ends with Cat saying, “I didn’t walk into your trap; you walked into mine.” I’m hooked.
Act I begins with Reid explaining what entropy means. When I noticed that I was on the Criminal Minds Round Table schedule to review this episode, I did a Google search on the word. I didn’t understand it then and I still don’t. But then again, I’m just the resident old grump in the rocking chair. Guess I’ll have to ask Merlin to explain it to me. My point, whatever it means, it was a wonderful touch on Breen’s part to include that explanation.
And then Cat chases JJ away. I nearly spit out the sip of my drink I had just taken at the “Blondie McBlonderson” line. And back to Hotch at headquarters giving orders to Rossi and Reid as JJ walks by the table. “Thanks for playing,” Cat sneers at her.
Cat gets Reid to deliver the profile of her. Let the game begin as Cat starts the ticking clock. “Oh boy,” Garcia says. That was another great piece of direction and editing.
The action quickly moves back to the restaurant with Cat asking about Reid’s time off and then back to the briefing in the Round Table room. I’m totally loving how the script seamlessly moves back and forth between the past and present.
We find out that Hotch has former NSA Director Cochrane sent to the USP (United States Penitentiary) in Terre Haute. For those of you that do not know, that is where the worst of the worst that have committed crimes against US federal laws are sent. Timothy McVeigh, one of the Oklahoma City bombers was executed there.
Back to the episode; through a video conference call between Cochrane, Hotch and Garcia (which tied up the ending scene of the previous episode before the holiday break), the team learns there are four contract killers targeting the Garcia, the Dirty Dozen in their world. The Sniper, The Chemist and The Bomber are the first three. I loved Capiello’s direction to show a snippet of each of their crimes that Breen wrote in. And a great shout out to the upcoming Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders by Hotch mentioning that Jack Garrett’s team is following up on The Bomber because of the international connection.
Back to the restaurant where Cat accuses Reid and the team that they are not profilers; they got lucky in finding The Snowman. Back to the BAU; I feel like I’m watching a tennis match. And I don’t care. The action and dialogue, plus the editing are top notch. And I got my first Rossi snark line; delivered by Joe Mantegna like only he can. “Great; now who’s this Snowman jag off?” Fangirl slip two; it’s a small one. :D
This scene is another example of Breen’s crisp dialogue. JJ: “So the Snowman is being held against his will in a safe house.” Garcia: “Wonder what that feels like.” My rather large tusch is starting to creep to the edge of the chair. Reid narrates over the footage of the FBI’s takedown of the safe house after Garcia digs through Cochrane’s flash drive and we all get our usual Morgan/Garcia scene.
The episode moves back to the restaurant and this is where I noticed the sheer brilliance of Cat/Aubrey Plaza and Reid/Matthew acting so well together. Cat makes another accusation that Reid is a cheater. Breen wrote Reid/Matthew a wonderful section of script describing how this was not his first time facing this kind of situation. The two actors took the dialogue and ran with it. And for those of you keeping score, Reid just won the first set of the tennis match.
Or so we thought. Hotch orders Rossi to move in. This is the one part I have a quibble with. Or maybe, more like a question for you astute Criminal Minds viewers. After nearly thirty years in FBI, David Rossi is not that sloppy hiding a gun; or at least, I’d like to think so. Was this part of the plan the team had set up? They figured Cat would have made out JJ and Rossi at the bar? Whichever, the First Act ends with Cat proclaiming she’ll “kill the Fed coming at me.” I make a mad dash to the loo and I decide I’ll go with option two: all part of the plan. *looks around* OK, busted again on being a fangirl.
It is here that I realized I’m not watching a tennis match. I’m watching a ping pong (or table tennis) match. Everything is moving that quickly. Flash to the BAU; “We need a target worth coming out for.” Garcia: “That’s me.” Hotch and Morgan delivering a firm “no” together. And while we don’t see the actual profiling being done by the team, it’s very obvious. Reid has put together Ms. 45’s MO and then discusses it with JJ and Hotch making his case that he’s the perfect target.
Back to the restaurant; Reid confidently looks at Cat. “A little secret; everything falls apart. The trick is accepting when it’s over.” Rossi and JJ, being on the “bench” (loved that two line conversation), discover the bombs that are planted. Cat looks at Reid. “Looks like I won.” That ends Act II. I’m now trying to frantically to get caught up on my live chat conversation. So is everyone else in the chatroom; because no one has said a word in between the commercials. That means all of us in our live chat are completely glued to our TV’s. I don’t think we’re the only ones.
This is where Breen’s script totally upped the game between Reid and Cat. Reid tells her he figured out who her father is (with Garcia’s help just before the date) and that he is in the DC area. Cat volleys back, demanding that Reid tells her the real reason for going to see his mother.
Reid admits Diana is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. Just like Cat’s dad not recognizing her, it took Diana three seconds to recognize Spencer. The striking similarities of the two stories are eerie. The quick scene of Garcia whispering to Hotch “Did you know?” with his soft reply of “no” is touching. “All the memories we used to share are just dying,” Reid admits. However Capiello’s shot over Morgan’s left shoulder as he listens to his friend’s admission is wonderful; and haunting. Morgan is clearly affected by the news as well with the tightening in his left cheek that we see.
We then get the flashback scene of a young Reid and Diana in a park with Reid on the swing, tying together the shot in the first act. And since they could not get Jane Lynch, Capiello’s clever filming of that scene through the water play sprinklers to hide the actual faces is brilliance. And we learn that while Reid escaped his mother’s schizophrenic gene when he turned thirty, he questions if he can dodge “this’ bullet. Reid tells Cat that he can’t help his mother; but he can help other people. Cat challenges him about showing up to help her. “Do you know how many men told me they could help me? How do you think that worked out for them?” JJ reports the bomb has just been armed, ending Act III.
I set a land speed record getting to the loo and back to not miss a second of the final act, sitting back down, now on the edge of my chair.
Criminal Minds crew.
The takedown of the bomber with Morgan shutting off the cellphone he pried from her hand as Lewis subdues the bomber by slamming her head into the bar had me jumping out of my chair shouting “Go girl!” Did I mention I love this character more each episode?
Yet, that alerts Cat he missed a couple of agents.
- JJ reports, “Hotch, we’re clear.”
- Hotch responds, “Reid isn’t.”
Morgan talks Cat down with Reid telling him “don’t let her win”. Through my re-watches, that has raised a huge question. Was this all part of the plan? Yet Cat surrenders if Reid takes her out. “Hotch, we’re clear,” Morgan reports.
Here’s where I have my biggest bark about Breen’s script. Cat, in the paddy wagon, her dad not there, tells Reid she’ll be out in twenty years. “What will you remember then?” It’s a total gut shot to Reid; but highly inaccurate. Cat is a serial killer; she will only leave a federal prison in a coffin. However, I’m the one that has always barked around here about “it’s a TV show; they take poetic license to make it work.” So I have to live up to those words.
That takes us to the ending scene of Reid and Morgan in front of the house. I’m out of my chair again, knowing what is coming. What I didn’t expect was Garcia flying out the door. And I make no apologies; I totally loved and LMAO at drunk Garcia. Who can blame her after living in witness protection at the BAU? However, as a former bartender with thirty plus years of experience – girl, stick with one of the three wise men; Jose, Jack or Jim. You DO NOT do Jäger. Period.
And I have to add this: after the episode aired, Kirsten tweeted she was not drunk during the filming. But she did ad lib her final line about being too hot and taking off clothes. And Rochelle Aytes (Savannah) totally ran with her ad lib. Can I say I loved that scene more?
Criminal Minds fans have been clamoring for years to see the return of the broffection between Morgan and Reid got it. Reid’s deep hug, tightly wrapping his arms around Morgan was just outstanding.
And the final scene of Reid sitting down on the swing wrapped the episode up the best way possible.
I’ll make this quick. Heather Capiello did a fantastic directing job. The Fantini brothers, Marc and Steffan, along with Scott Gordon provided a brilliant backdrop of music. I must note they sure love their cello music for the emotional ending scenes ala the scene of JJ announcing Prentiss’ death in Lauren (S6) among others.
I must give huge kudos to episode editor Jimmy Hall. He nailed it. And a total shout out to the THE best crew in TV for bringing this wonderful episode together.
Now to Breen: bud you wrote a wonderfully fantastic script. You gave Matthew Gray Gubler his chance to shine now back on the Criminal Minds stage while giving the rest of the team some great scenes as well. But really? Reid gets past his schizophrenic worry to now deal with another issue? Really? You broke this Hotch/Rossi fan’s heart. Yet, it was powerful; and yes, dramatic TV poetic license taking.
Sharon Lee Watson better step up to the plate huge the next two episodes she pens. Because right now, Breen Frazier is hands down the front runner for taking the Best Writer of the Season Rockie Award away from her three year reign.
You all know my final grade.
~~~~rockhotch31 (Guest reviewer)
P.S. Thank you to Sir Elyan for the wonderful screen caps that will be inserted into this review.